During the 5th-7th grade, I participated in a national contest called “Odyssey of the Mind.” I was on a team with five males who were given a problem to creatively address. Every year, the Odyssey of the Mind organization provides 7-8 problems that a team spends months addressing in preparation for the competition. Being a group of guys, we always chose the construction-oriented project; which entailed building an intricate balsa-wood structure that could not weigh more than 20 ounces, yet would be expected to hold hundreds of pounds. For those of you who are unfamiliar with balsa wood, it is softer than the birch wood from which toothpicks are made. Essentially, we had to build a structure out of toothpicks that would be tested by heavy weights. There was more to the competition, including having to perform a creative skit revolving around crushing your pain-staking built structure in the storyline, but just building the building was quite the challenge!
For months, my team wrestled trying to figure out how this thing would work. We went to competition the first year with a small boxlike structure . It was crushed fast! The next year, we went back to the drawing board. We checked out dozens of books on architecture and engineers trying to figure out this problem (mind you, this was before internet and some of the “cheat” sites that exist today). I remember the lightbulb moment for us when we started studying bridges built by using trusses. The trusses distributed the weight more evenly and those bridges could hold-up under immense weight and pressure. Understanding weight distribution was the key!
Long-story short, we designed a structure where each toothpick-like piece of balsa wood would distribute the weight as broadly as possible, and at competition our structure held 350 pounds! Impressed yet? I thought so. We won our local competition and advanced to the state finals in the dream destination of every young boy - El Paso (try not to be jealous). To our amazement, there were teams from the state who had built structures that were even more effective. The winning team’s structure held 1,300 pounds! It was amazing that such a small structure could hold so much weight when everything was distributed evenly.
In the book of Exodus, Moses' father-in-law, Jethro, advised Moses about a bad personal practice. Moses was a one-man show. He was killing himself trying to meet their every need. Jethro tells him that “the thing is too heavy” for him and he should go find others so “they will bear the burden with you.” In other words, everyone needs to do their part. Jethro’s management principle is just as true for the people of God today as it was for God’s people in their day.
For Tabernacle to function effectively, the weight of responsibility must be distributed evenly among all. That’s something we’ll look at in Acts 2 over the next couple of weeks, but I want to ask you to consider this truth as we look towards the Fall Festival on October 28. We could use your help! Please, do not delay signing up. This is a highlight of the year for our interaction with the community and you can come be a part of that important witness. When you sign-up for the Fall Festival, will you also consider signing up for ETC? We could use some more weight distribution in that area as well. I pray God leads you to do your part and see to it that the weight of our calling is distributed to all.
Expecting His Best,
Stephen V. Allen